Tales of Ghostly Lost Treasure

Spaniards worked the mines in the Ozark Hills of Missouri in the late 17th century. One of the mines containing lead and silver, 18 miles southwest of Galena, was worked by seven men, who could not agree as to a division of the yield. One by one they were killed in quarrels until but a single man was left, and he, in turn, was set upon by the resurrected victims and choked to death by their cold fingers.

In 1873 a Vermonter named Johnson went there and said he would find what it was the Spaniards had been hiding, in spite of the devil and his imps. He did work there for one day, and was then found dead at the mouth of the old shaft with marks of bony fingers on his throat.

The seven cities of Cibola, that Coronado and other Spanish adventurers sought in the vast deserts of the Southwest, were pueblos. A treacherous guide who had hoped to take Coronado into the waterless plain and lose him, but who first lost his own head, had told him a tale of the Quivira, a tribe that had much gold. So far from having gold these Indians did not know the stuff, but the myth that they had hoarded quantities of it survived and caused the waste of lives and money. Towns in New Mexico that have lain in ruins since 1670, when the Apache butchered their people — towns that were well built and were lorded by solid old churches and monasteries erected by the Spanish missionaries — these towns have often been dug over, and the ruinous state of Abo, Curari, and Tabira is due, in part, to their foolish tunnelling and blasting.

Spanish Galleon

Spanish Galleon

A Spanish ship, one day in 1841, put in for water off the spot where Columbia City, Oregon, now stands. She had a rough crew on board, and it had been necessary for her officers to watch the men closely from the time the latter discovered that she was carrying a costly cargo. Hardly had the anchor chains run out before the sailors fell upon the captain, killed him, seized all of value that they could gather, and took it to the shore. What happened after is not clear, but it is probable that in a quarrel, arising over the demands of each man to have most of the plunder, several of the claimants were slain. Indians were troublesome, likewise, so that it was thought best to put most of the goods into the ground, and this was done on the tract known as Hez Copier’s farm. Hardly was the task completed before the Indians appeared in large numbers and set up their tepees, showing that they meant to remain. The mutineers rowed back to the ship, and, after vainly waiting for several days for a chance to go on shore again, they sailed away. Two years of wandering, fighting, and carousal ensued before the remnant of the crew returned to Oregon. The Indians were gone, and an earnest search was made for the money — but in vain. It was as if the ground had never been disturbed. The man who had supervised its burial was present until the mutineers went back to their boats, when it was discovered that he was mysteriously missing.

More than 40 years after these events a meeting of Spiritualists was held in Columbia City, and a “medium” announced that she had received a revelation of the exact spot where the goods had been concealed. A company went to the place, and, after a search of several days, found, under a foot of soil, a quantity of broken stone. While throwing out these fragments one of the party fell dead. The spirit of the defrauded and murdered captain had claimed him, the medium explained. So great was the fright caused by this accident that the search was again abandoned until March, 1890, when another party resumed the digging, and after taking out the remainder of the stone they came on a number of human skeletons. During the examination of these relics — possibly the bones of mutineers who had been killed in the fight on shore — a man fell into a fit of raving madness, and again the search was abandoned, for it is now said that an immutable curse rests on the treasure.


Charles M. Skinner, 1896. Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated October, 2017.

About the Author:  Charles M. Skinner (1852-1907) authored the complete nine volume set of Myths and Legends of Our Own Land in 1896. This tale is excerpted from these excellent works, which are now in the public domain.

Also See:

Ghost Stories

Treasure Tales


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